Census: Region grew by 600,000 in 10 years

An average of 165 people a day added

Data from the 2020 Census is out and—no surprise—central Puget Sound has continued its strong growth.

The population now stands at 4.3 million, up from 3.7 million in 2010. To put that in perspective, we’ve added about the equivalent of two Kitsap counties since the last census count.

Growth here made up a large portion of Washington state’s population gains. Out of 981,000 people added in the last decade, 603,431 (62%) were central Puget Sound residents. This region now comprises 56% of the state’s population.

Almost every city in the region grew in the last decade.

Not surprisingly, Seattle gained the most people in terms of raw numbers. The 128,000 added residents helped make King County one of only five counties in the U.S. to gain more than 300,000 people this decade.

Tacoma is the only city on the top 10 list that’s not in King County (or partly in King County, in Auburn’s case).

When looking at percentage growth, every county in the region has at least one city on the top 10. Three Pierce County cities show up on the list: Gig Harbor, Ruston, and Orting. Snohomish is represented by Bothell (though, to be fair, part of Bothell is in King County). And Kitsap County’s Port Orchard has a substantial 40% growth rate.

The top city by percentage growth is Kirkland. But much of that growth came from annexation; the city took in an extra 32,000 in population in 2011 and nearly doubled its size.

Kent’s been in the news for being one of the fastest growing large cities in the country, but it ranks only fourth here because the Census Bureau’s list was limited to places over 100,000. Annexation also padded some of the growth in Kent. The city added 25,000 people in the Panther Lake area just after the 2010 census.

The once-a-decade census helps communities plan how they’ll grow, determines political representation, and impacts funding for local jurisdictions.

On Monday, we’ll look at what the new census numbers say about changes in the region’s racial and ethnic makeup.